Friday, 1 January 2016

Where did that year go?

I write this as the weather is at last showing signs of doing what it should and get a bit colder. With December proving to be much warmer and wetter than I can ever remember, it has given me the chance to get out and fish, a couple of times, in relative comfort. There was a single day, back in November, when we had a frost and I made the mistake of going fishing that day. At that point I thought the winter was here to stay but how wrong could I be. Daytime temperatures in double figures, here in the South East, with many night time lows not far off either has confused the flora and fauna, let alone this novice angler.

I am intending to concentrate on the urban fishing for the winter with the odd venture down to Beaver Fishery to experiment on some of the other ponds and lakes. It looks like Tim will be back fishing, having just started a brilliant job that gives him every-other Monday off. As the Trouble will be at work he will be allowed out on his own! The first trip is planned for a week, next Monday.

Maybe the pike can wait for another time. Instead, Eden Pond at Beaver Fishery may be worth a few hours spent bothering the tamer inhabitants on a cold January...
Tim had mentioned that he fancied a spot of pike fishing and initially I agreed. Although not averse to the idea, I am now of a mind that we need to think about this further before we rush into it. Apart from a lack of appropriate tackle, I am not sure exactly what we need. I think by far the best thing to do is to shelve the pike fishing for a week or two, until we can get the chance to talk to some guys on the bank and hopefully get some first hand advice about handling a big (ish) pike should we hook one. In the meantime we can go and bother a few fish in the other waters using light float tackle and a cheap whip we have had kicking about.

My second ever fish. One of four that I caught that first session - brilliant!

Our fishing year

Reflecting on the year just gone I am surprised by just how much I have learnt and, moreover, how much more there is to learn. Never in a month of Sundays would I have thought I would be so enthused by angling. For years I had dismissed it as something others did. Something that I had no interest in whatsoever. From a passing suggestion, to my Brother in September 2014, I have found myself embroiled in a fascinating world I had no idea existed. At the time I was expecting to be assisting Tim with his fishing and having a bit of a go myself. As it turned out, Tim had a troubled year and could not devote any time to fishing. Even my first trip was made without him. By this time I was all geared up and ready to go. I had seen the Matt Hayes video, and was now an expert! I was itching to go and have a go but, by this time, Tim was otherwise engaged. Sue came to the rescue and promptly offered to come along and keep me company. Grateful of the moral support, I accepted and off we went. Well, the story of that day is one of the most viewed posts of this blog (after Two Dog, that is!) Having caught four reasonable sized fish, much to my surprise, I was sold on the idea. That day I changed my conception of fishing and from that point on I was eager for more.

Tim about to enjoy a day fishing...
Tim did get out a few times, but we did not have great success. His limited fishing experience was now just a distant memory and he had forgotten most of that some forty years on. Most of the time he had either fished on the small river near where we went on holiday as kids, or with his Godfather who was a serious angler. I found myself showing him what to do - not what I had expected at all.

Early days fishing at Beaver
I had been invited to go fishing by a fellow member of the Maggot Drowning Forum to a venue I had not fished before, Beaver Fishery. That was it, I was off. I liked the pace from day one and found everybody really friendly and most of all tolerant and helpful. I started going alone and enjoyed a day fishing solo (never thought I would) I was working on my technique and really getting somewhere. To my surprise I was invited to join in the monthly matches they hold. I was a bit reluctant at first as I had always said I was not interested in match fishing. Eventually I thought I would have a go. I talked to the guys in the local tackle shop and they gave me some pointers. Armed with my new-found knowledge, and by this time I had been experimenting with my own recipe groundbait, so I took that too. I actually managed to not come last and the story of that day, and a link to a video, can be found HERE.

First match, first net of fish - Amazing!
That was it, I was well and truly hooked (Yes, I have been trying to avoid the pun but I relent). For the rest of the summer I was either competing in the matches or refining my technique and bait making. By the end of the year I was pulling good bags of fish out of the lake with ease. I still have a lot to learn but I do feel I have achieved much in the past six months.

This match activity rather put paid to any dropshotting I had planned at the beginning of the year. I had managed to kit myself out with all I needed to get started by the beginning of February, but it was not until the end of October that I actually got to have a go. One nice pleasant Sunday Sue and I took the train to Camden Town and spent the day on the tow-path jigging and dropshotting the Regent's Canal. Although we did not catch anything we had a good day out and learnt a lot. Since then we have been back once for a couple of hours and actually caught a fish.

A few weeks ago Tim came fishing for the first time since the spring. By then, with the help of my own groundbait mix, I had worked out how to feeder fish for F1 carp reasonably successfully. I was able to show Tim how to do it too and he was pulling out fish one after the other. The picture says it all...

First cast and Tim catches his first fish of the day. A day that ended with both of us catching dozens of fish each.
At one point, one after the other.
I am looking forward to fishing with my brother this year and trying some new techniques. We have come to the hobby late in life and missed out on a lot of learning over decades of non-fishing, unlike the little fellow in this video that has to be my favourite from 2015...


I plan to do lots of fishing this year and experiment with new baits and lures. I also plan to visit some new venues and even do a spot of river fishing. You never know, now Tim's situation has improved we may even get some fishing in on other days (other than Monday). Happy New Year to all of you that have taken the time to read my waffle and help us to be better anglers. I hope you have enjoyed reading our blog as much as we enjoy creating it!